10 , 2001
This is the key to all of education: Provide the best tools for the individual. Facilitate education for the individual. Make the most of the time kids have in a formal learning environment by giving them the tools they can make the most use of.
We try to do this in many cases. But for some reason, at my daughter's school and at many others that you've all probably read about, the I.T. departments are doing away with what could very well be the most important tool in a child's development: choice when it comes to available technology.
If you're anything like me, your kids have been using the Mac from a very early age. My older daughter was using Photoshop at age 2 to make pictures and has since moved on to dedicated painting applications like Studio Artist and Painter and has even tried her hand at a little vector-based animation. You can imagine the excitement of a little girl who can watch her picture moving on the screen. The first time she did it, I could see in her eyes the realization of what she knew she could accomplish now and what she wanted to work on in the future.
And the Mac has not been incidental to this process. The Mac's interface cut out a lot of the frustrations that might have hampered early learning experiences like this. The icons and file structure came almost naturally to her. And the software she uses is, in many cases, not available on the Windows platform. And now she gets to throw away the bulk of her experience and move on to a different platform.
I.T. people don't like Macs, and administrators, whether they be corporate managers or members of a school board, listen to I.T. people on technology issues. Nevermind that Macs are easier to administer, last longer and cost less to maintain in the long run than peecees. My daughter's school, and many others, don't even want donations of Macs. They don't want free tools for education.
Now obviously I don't have a solution to this problem of limited thinking on the part of school administrators. If I did, this would be a column about how I got my daughter's school to accept Macs instead of a rant. But I do know that many of you out there have faced the same problem and that some of you have actually managed to effect change in your children's schools. And I and others would like to know how you did it. So please post your experiences or thoughts in the Creative Mac user forum or, if you prefer, e-mail me so that I can try out some of your techniques and pass the results along to our readers who will be facing this same problem when their kids are ready for school.
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Dave Nagel is the producer of Creative Mac and Digital Media Designer; host of several World Wide User Groups, including Synthetik Studio Artist, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe InDesign, Adobe LiveMotion, Creative Mac and Digital Media Designer; and executive producer of the Digital Media Net family of publications.
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